Cochrane review shows that hearing aids are effective for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss
A recently published Cochrane review, the highest level of evidence, has provided evidence from generally well-designed randomised controlled trials that shows hearing aids are effective for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Key results show moderate quality of evidence for:
- Listening ability – large beneficial effect
- Hearing-related quality of life (i.e. participation) – large beneficial effect
- Health-related quality of life – small beneficial effect
This is the first systematic review with meta-analysis that shows a significant effect of health-related QoL. Moderate quality of evidence across all the key primary and secondary effectiveness outcomes is not common, as many reviews conclude low or very-low quality evidence. Adverse effects (i.e. pain, noise-induced hearing loss) were not reported (low-quality).
The authors conclude that “the evidence is compatible with the widespread provision of hearing aids as the first-line clinical management in those who seek help for hearing difficulties”. Further well-conducted trials are needed to establish effects of age, gender, degree of hearing loss and type hearing aids. This review is being widely disseminated to audiology professionals, commissioners and researchers.
For full review:
Ferguson MA, Kitterick PT, Chong LY, Edmondson-Jones AM, Barker F, Hoare D (2017). Hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 9.
The research has been welcomed by leading hearing loss charities, who believe it will help to influence both policy and provision of hearing aid services in the future. Ayla Ozmen, Health Policy Manager at Action on Hearing Loss, said: “This research shows that hearing aids are hugely beneficial to the lives of people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The fact that this affordable, effective intervention has been proven to enable people to continue taking part in everyday situations is extremely important. At a time when many local areas are proposing to cut hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, this research further demonstrates what a vital intervention they are.”
Brian Lamb, Chair of the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance, said the quality of research provides certainty for people with hearing loss about the most effective support for them: “Cochrane systematic reviews are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care resources. This Cochrane review on hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss shows that an objective, transparent and accountable review of the evidence finds hearing aids are effective for mild to moderate hearing loss.”